Thursday, March 12, 2009

Three recent articles on Reuters about water problems in the West

Reuters News Service has been focusing on water a bit this week. Hard to say why. Maybe because it's National Groundwater Awareness week or maybe it's just because the State of California is all in a tizzy this winter over drought, climate change, ecological calamity, agricultural decline, etc. because there just isn't enough water in the state any more to meet all the competing demands being placed on it. If you haven't taken a look at the Aquafornia blog in a while you should, just to get caught up on the latest round of finger-pointing going on over there.

But back to Reuters. First there were two articles on Tues. the 10th, one discussing impending water crises in the West resulting from rapid growth dependent on occasionally unreliable water supplies and the second discussing the limited options available for water managers to stretch existing, thin supplies or augment supplies. Then on Thurs. the 12th, they carried an editorial, written by a former head of the California Department of Water resources and current water policy advisor for an environmental advocacy organization, comparing current water crises in the West with the current financial crisis - both caused by growth based largely on speculation (that the water would keep flowing in one case and money in the other). He makes some good suggestions for improving water use efficiencies in the residential sector but that's pretty small potatoes in the overall water picture.

If we want to adapt to new climate realities and maintain our quality of life we will need big changes in how water is allocated and priced (and those two things are highly interdependent) before too long.

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